Posted September 09, 2013

League admits a second blown call in 49ers-Packers game

Green Bay Packers, NFC North, NFC West
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh takes a moment to express his displeasure with one of Sunday's calls.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh expresses his displeasure with one of Sunday’s calls. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Green Bay fans were upset by the result of the offsetting penalties called on Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews and San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley. But as it turns out, referee Bill Leavy and his crew blew not one, but two calls on a single play, and the result appears to be a relative wash from a results perspective.

With 9:30 left in the first half of the 49ers’ 34-28 win, Matthews was flagged for hitting 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he had run out of bounds, and Staley was subsequently handed an unnecessary roughness penalty for mixing it up with Matthews in a sideline scrum. It looked as if Matthews should have been flagged again or ejected, as he was throwing more punches that Staley, but he wasn’t penalized further. Problem was, Leavy’s crew decided that the down should be replayed, when the rulebook says that offsetting dead-ball fouls do not result in a replay  of the down.

“On the play where the quarterback went out of bounds and was hit late out of bounds, and then there was a subsequent hit by a San Francisco player, the down should have counted,” Leavy said. “The penalties were both dead ball, and they should have offset at the spot where the runner went out of bounds. And it would have been fourth down.”

Thus, the 49ers should have had 4th-and-2 from the Green Bay six-yard line, as opposed to 3rd-and-6 from the 10. Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin for a touchdown on the next play, leaving everyone to wonder what could have been for the Packers had it been ruled fourth down.

The second blown call was revealed on Monday, when the league said upon review that Staley should not have been flagged, and that the 49ers actually should have had 1st-and-goal from the Green Bay three-yard line. So, the 49ers — who were thought to have received a gift  – were actually put in a hole when they should have been able to try to pound it in from closer inside the red zone.

NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino told Steve Wyche of the NFL Network on Monday morning that he spoke to Leavy right after the game, and that Leavy recognized that there had been a mistake “a couple of plays later.” Blandino, talking about the down-and-spot error, not the erroneous flag on Staley, said that mistakes like that can’t happen going forward.

“That’s a blown call,” Blandino said. “It’s a mistake, and we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We do a training tape every week with highlights from the previous week’s games, and that play will obviously be a part of it. We’ll explain the enforcement so that all of our officials understand what the proper enforcement is, and we can make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.”

Blandino also said that while the NFL’s Competition Committee has discussed the idea of people in the league office communicating with officials during games, he believes that the ultimate decision has to be on the field.

“The referee and his crew, they have to be able to officiate the play,” Blandino said. “Mistakes will happen, they shouldn’t happen in a situation like this where there’s a rule enforcement, but the officials have to be able to officiate the game.”

And even if Leavy had received a call about the dead-ball fouls, it would appear upon review that a 4th-and-2 for the 49ers would have been an even more egregious result given that the correct interpretation of the rules would have resulted in a no-call on Staley.

Blandino and the league deserve credit for handling this with transparency, but Matthews isn’t the only one who should be fined for this play, as he undoubtedly will be. Leavy and his crew should feel it in their wallets, as well.

164 comments
coalminds
coalminds

Matthews should have been given two personal fouls and ejected (And I rarely call for that in football). So much for the idiots trying to focus on a meaningless mistake.

smoothking
smoothking

WCoastprofessional ho

That`s Right!


Real Niner fans pull for the Pack and incompetent refs!!


DODGERFAIL2013
DODGERFAIL2013

forty whiners.

F harbaugh.  the captain comeback story as the QB for the colts was cute, now he's an annoying T.W.A.T

TruthTeller
TruthTeller

Oh, Bullspit.  One mistake was the incorrect application of a rule, and the other was a revisionist look at the events and saying, "hmmmm, maybe we should not have flagged one player".  It is NOT a wash...it is the NFL covering their ASSSSSSSS.

billthompsonbaby
billthompsonbaby

I really don't see a difference between the union refs and the scab refs, except that every time the scab refs made a mistake it was national news and everyone talked about how inept they were. Union refs make bad calls just as often.

Matthews should have been ejected from the game for that hit. So if the defense does something flagrant and get a response, the end result is the offense is penalized? That's funny.

J57
J57

He's a high-intensity coach, that's for sure. Nobody says you have to like him. But he fires up his team, they win, and that's the bottom line. And whether you like him or not, hoping that anyone has aneurysm is really low class.

J57
J57

Irrelevant because all those things didn't stop Kaepernick from torching the Packers defense for 400+ yards of passing and 3 passing TDs. The Niners defense stopped a great quarterback, and the Packers defense couldn't stop a second year quarterback. That makes it irrelevant.

grignon
grignon

The penalty for unsportsman like conduct was called. The ONLY error here was the down and spot of the ball.

There are dozens of judgement calls and non-calls in the course of a game. Many of which, if reviewed, could be considered mistakes.


The public re-thinking the NFL is doing here is an attempt at saving face in the glare illuminating their incompetence.

NoFunLeauge
NoFunLeauge

If the Green Bay coach declined the earlier penalty, it would have been fourth down and the 49ers would have gone for a FG.  But he accepted the penalty giving the 49ers a chance for a third down play that had the late hit in it.  The Packers coach should have forced the fourth down FG attempt.

jhiken6022
jhiken6022

Meaningful win by SF - they deserved it.  The blown rule call didn't cost my Packers the game but is unforgiveable.  The offsetting dead ball calls are frequently debatable and, in this case, does not undo the referee's mistake - just obfuscation by the NFL.

That being said, the immature ranting and gloating by 49er fans on this and other boards is infuriating.  It's like the Seahawks.  I get it, you've owned the Packers for 3 games  now.  If your view is that this was a blowout, then you're delusional.  The difference between these two teams, while still present, is decreasing.  By season's end, when we hopefully meet again in the playoffs, the outcome may be very different.  One thing is for certain, there will be more motivation for the Packers after Harbaugh's comments.  He's a very good coach but the difference in class between him and McCarthy is glaring.  Just imagine his response if the blown calls at Seattle and in this game had gone against his team.

I can't wait for the rematch.  49er fans - you have a great team but an obnoxious and immature fan base.  I have no doubt you'll get your comeuppance.

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

Bill Leavy, the man whose multiple (yes, he took cash under the table) blown calls against the Seahawks handed (his favorite team, by the way) the Steelers the Super Bowl trophy.  Why in the world is this moron still allowed to ref in the NFL?!?!?!?

gusCOYS
gusCOYS

Obviously SI are trying to cost save by using an old photo of Harbaugh.  He is wearing last year's Reebok top, he is wearing Nike this season, like the rest of the team ;)

gusCOYS
gusCOYS

If I was a Pack fan I should be more upset at Matthews than anyone.  Similar to what happened in the Jets Tampa Bay game, if Matthews doesn't hit Kaep late it's 4th and 2.  Lack of discipline from an all pro player

epicfailureismymiddlename
epicfailureismymiddlename

If the NFL is reviewing this, why isn't anyone mentioning that Boldin came into the fight and had a hold of Shields face mask and was dragging him around the sideline? I think the NFL is trying to minimize an big mistake by their refs.

mofo
mofo

The latest fad in the NFL...Harbaughing.  Its a mix of Gordon Ramsay and a little girl crying over her favorite boy band.

Fun_2
Fun_2

Most of us in this forum seem to be understanding football really well, yet not  understanding the difference between making the wrong call versus simply not  following the rules of the game. Refs are reviewing that clip only because Matthew is under hot water; otherwise, no one would have known who threw what during that skirmish! In these situations, no matter who you support, nine out of ten times flags get thrown both ways. They do not get reviewed every time and if they would, NFL would need three FTEs  to review all the penalty and flags and correct themselves thirty nine times a week! How is this different from a wrong holding penalty, when there is  no hold? How is this different from a missed offensive pass interference  when the receiver shoved the defender? NFL clearly is trying to hide its BIGGER mistake, which was not a penalty - it is a rule, plain simple rule of game - when the ball  is dead and there are two penalty - they offset BUT the down does not get replayed. If anyone tries to justify that missed call by saying the penalty should have been made on  Matthews anyway, I am going to kindly ask NFL to review every single penalty and  let the teams know if they all  were made correctly.

Now let me be  very clear. It is impossible to say if that call would have changed the outcome of the game, so arguing over that is fruitless. A missed call in second quarter usually should not change the outcome even if momentum shift happens. A blown call on a last-second Failmary does change the outcome though but this wasn't a Failmary situation.

gbgentleman
gbgentleman

The biggest miscall was GB Head Coach accepting the penalty before any of this happening.

Tmad
Tmad

On the other hand, the photo of Harbaugh and the referees would also explain why they can't think straight out there. He should get an unsportsmanlike. Seriously, aren't you 49ers fans embarrassed by him? 

Tmad
Tmad

I don't understand this. Blown call on Staley?  meaning when he went after Mathews it should have been unsportsmanlike instead of roughing?  He instigated the interactions so something should have been called. Mathews didn't seek him out, he was retaliating. Or did they misidentify someone else as Staley?   Not sure all this reviewing and hand-wringing over blown calls is such a good idea unless something happens- like fining the referees. 

ImmaFubared
ImmaFubared

Gee thats two games that the refs may have costs the Packers. Does the league not want them in the playoffs? 

KathyWhiteBird
KathyWhiteBird

Niners won and Packers lost again...get over it !

nortran11
nortran11

412 yards passing and they still needed a blown call to win....shame shame

Whatever
Whatever

Matthews should have been flagged a second time and ejected. I don't know what the referee behind Matthews was looking at, but he certainly missed the entire event and he looked like he was looking right at Matthews from behind.

I expect Matthews should be severely fined both for the hit and throwing punches, and he should be suspended for at least one game.

smoothking
smoothking

Wisconsin.....just a 2 bit , fly over state, full of Chicago`s garbage who swarm there for the commie provided freebies. Packers going nowhere this year. Without Rodgers, their a 2 win team...like last years Chiefs. 

x72
x72

And how about every replay they showed of the GB secondary holding the 49ers receivers jerseys? What a cheap shot dirty team.

Benbrung
Benbrung

@DODGERFAIL2013  

He annoys you? Awesome. No one around here pays much attention to what he says to the media since it's all designed to play someone. Glad it's working.

Benbrung
Benbrung

@TruthTeller 

This is technically true. So what?

No matter how you categorize them, neither mistake changed the game more than the other. Acknowledging only one mistake or both mistakes or even no mistakes won't change the outcome. Packers lose.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@billthompsonbaby Wrong. Bad memory.

There was 1 specific bad call that made national news. The Green Bay - Seattle game ended on a controversial call by the scabs and a few days later, the real refs were back at work. 

Benbrung
Benbrung

@grignon  

What's being illuminated is actually the lack of emotional maturity preventing some Packer fans from accepting reality.

TruthTeller
TruthTeller

@grignon   I said the EXACT same thing, in my post,  before I read yours.  Well said.

smoothking
smoothking

@jhiken6022 

Meet again??

Packers will not finish.500 this year....you`re in our rear view view mirror. We`re thinking Seattle, Arizona etc.

Mike26
Mike26

@epicfailureismymiddlename You really need to get over this packer fan.  Matthews should have been ejected - how would you have liked THEM apples?

Mike26
Mike26

@Fun_2 Matthews being tossed would have clearly changed the outlook of the game, don'tcha think?

coalminds
coalminds

@Tmad Embarrassed by a winner? What are we, Browns fans?

Mike26
Mike26

@Tmad Tmad, you need to count your blessing that golden boy wasn't tossed for striking Staley twice on the head.  Everything else you say is bunk.

capitalofperu
capitalofperu

@ImmaFubared Guess you just glossed over the part that said "San Fran should have had a 1st and goal from the 3 yard line"?

B I
B I

@ImmaFubared Did you read the whole article?

  The Niners were screwed worse in that play, because Staley should not have been flagged in the first place.

David G1
David G1

@ImmaFubared Did you read the article?  GB benefited from this series of calls, except their defense couldn't stop the Niners.  

Benbrung
Benbrung

@ImmaFubared  

That call wasn't worth enough points to cost them the game directly. Are you saying the call made them too sad to play winning football? That's quite a sensitive group of boys in Packer uniforms.

KathyWhiteBird
KathyWhiteBird

Kap out played Aaron Rodgers twice...suck it and go cry somewhere else....Hell even Alex Smith beat your asses in your own stadium too ! 

Mike26
Mike26

@nortran11 pretty obvious that your understanding of football is scant, nortran.

B I
B I

@nortran11Did you read the article?  GB benefited from this series of calls, except their defense couldn't stop the Niners.

jacobhaight1678
jacobhaight1678

@nortran11  

1. still would of been up 3 points at the end of the game were the packs were out of range with no time outs.

2. The call was blown should of been 1st and goal on the 1 niners ball

3. Shame shame shame on packers defense 412yds through the air 

4. Maybe if your players could control themselves and not launch themselves at players that our out of bounds you mite win some games.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@smoothking You do not represent Niners fans in any way, shape, or form. I don't know where you're from but I hope it's far away from any other humans.

Tmad
Tmad

@smoothking Commie freebies?  You have no clue about WI government the last 3 years. But thanks for your thoughtful and smooth analysis.

ChristopherMartuscello
ChristopherMartuscello

@smoothking Other than green bay's 2ndary getting destroyed they looked good. Held them under 100 yrds rushing which is huge compared to their last meeting and for Lacy's first NFL game he was not terrible and he went up against one of the best run defenses

mratrotious
mratrotious

@x72Exactly my thought as well, Packers had 3 drives come back from Holding - twice phantom calls on Sitton...

Whatever
Whatever

@x72 That's called football. Apparently you are a 49ers fan who doesn't watch your own secondary doing the same thing or the rest of the league.

glenn_galloway
glenn_galloway

@Mike26 @Fun_2    

I'll take that as your tacit admission that the 3rd down botched ruling did indeed affect the outcome of the game.